Monday, October 1, 2012
The lulav (palm branch with myrtle and willow) and etrog (citron), symbols of the Feast of Tabernacles.
Today is the first day of the Jewish festival of Sukkot, the Feast of Tabernacles.
No, tabernacles are not those crustaceans that grow on the hulls of old ships. They are, rather, the little booths that observant Jews - the kind that don’t write blogposts on holidays - construct in their back yards during this festival, there to partake in meals and even, weather permitting, camp out.
Sukkot is also known as z’man simchateinu, the season of our joy. It makes sense: in the Old Days, the broiling hot summer would be over, the fall harvest would be in, and it would be time to traipse off to Jerusalem for eight days of barbecue.
For me, Sukkot is a bittersweet holiday. It’s the harbinger of the cooler autumn weather and the changing leaves, and the coda to the challenging moral introspection of the High Holidays. The eve of the holiday is the yahrzeit of my beloved Uncle Phil, who passed away two years ago. And the first day of Sukkot is my birthday... at least, according to the Hebrew calendar.
Which means, by Jewish reckoning, I am sixty years old today. Hoo-hah!
And, since my Hebrew name is Simcha, what better time to be born than on the kickoff day of z’man simchateinu?
(As far as the civil calendar is concerned, I still have three days to go. Might as well enjoy the last waning moments of fifty-hood while I can, eh?)